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The Venture Junkie 

Jana

Have you ever wanted to try a fun looking app but were worried about the data drain on your cell phone bill? Jana has engineered a solution that adds back a data charge allowing for users to gain a ‘free trial’ to particular apps. Developed countries typically have mature and advanced telecom infrastructure, so trying out an app does not cost a lot of data. But in emerging markets, data charges can be significant and are a major impediment to using apps or other mobile services. Jana’s services allow users in emerging markets to try new applications without incurring high data costs.

How It Works

Jana’s main product is called mCent, a mobile app that can be easily downloaded for free on Android OS. Android has significantly better market penetration (90%) in the developing world than iPhones so Jana has focused exclusively on catering to that OS. Once mCent is downloaded, the user can try out different apps that partner with Jana. The strategic partnership between 3rd party apps and Jana allow for data charges to be credited back to the user.

Jana tracks users and demonstrates their ability to attract and deliver recurring users that generate higher sales and ad dollars. Data cost is a significant barrier in the developing world, but once users can try an app for free, they are much more willing to come back once the app has proven useful.

I want it where can I get it?

Got an Android phone? Download the app for free from Google app store.

Let’s Talk Finance

Funded: Yes, Jana has raised $92m including a recent $57m raise from Verizon

Raising Money: Not currently

Revenue: Not pre revenue, but not sharing specifics. The company has 85 employees

Potential Customers: Jana targets emerging markets like Brazil and India. For reference, Pew estimates that 72% of people own a smartphone in the US whereas 41% of Brazilians own one, and only 17% of Indians. This gap to the developed world represents a tremendous opportunity for mobile service and ad providers.

Cyclicality: Telecom is typically non-cyclical, but 3rd party app usage is consumer discretionary and likely cyclical. Jana’s services are likely slightly cyclical.

Market Shift: Mobile will continue to grow in communication, entertainment, and services.

Team

Jana was founded by Nathan Eagle in 2009. Nathan was studying in Kenya and was asked to donate blood on a semi-frequent basis due to his rare blood type. Nathan designed a system where nurses could report their blood inventory by sending SMS. The system worked but was expensive for nurses using their own phones and own data plan, so Nathan wrote a simple script that added data charges back to their cell phone plan. The solution took off and the idea for Jana was born.

I sat down with Mike Sagan, product manager on the consumer side of mCent. His own background is in development economics, and he was drawn to the emerging market applications that Jana provides.

Nathan and Mike are joined by ~83 other motivated employees interested in bringing better mobile penetration to the developing world.

Looking to the Future

In the future, Jana will continue to partner with 3rd party apps, growing their offering. They are in the middle of redesigning mCent to make it even easier and more powerful for users. Jana’s mission is to make the Internet free for the next billion.


For more information please go to the website at www.jana.com or contact the team directly at info@jana.com